ISO 29400 and Offshore Wind Farm Inspections in the Energy Sector

“In order to have clean air in cities, you have to go electric”, Elon Musk is famously quoted as saying. Thanks to ISO 29400, there’s now that little bit extra in guidance for a greener future. With the Coronavirus pandemic in full force, the effect of a reduction in business, industry and transportation has visually shown how much better the planet feels without carbon-powered activity. The International Organization for Standards (ISO) have in light of this recently released ISO 29400, a new standard self-hailed as a “breath of fresh air” for the offshore wind farm industry. ISO 29400 provides a much-needed way to guide the generation of electricity chiefly through wind farm operations in a sustainable fashion.

Outlining various best practice and guidelines for wind farm associated operations, ISO 29400 covers everything from the optimal design and analysis of components, to repair and maintenance strategies, to decommission and redeployment of equipment. As a broad standard for the offshore wind farm industry, ISO 29400 sets a regulatory tone to hold operators, managers and inspectors to a high standard. Whilst the solid ground counterparts to the offshore wind farms prove to relatively easier to install and maintain, offshore provides its unique problems of technical maintenance whilst balancing on sea-legs. Offshore farm sites are well-suited to catching wind and are becoming increasingly favoured around the globe, hence the giant energy providers were in desperate need of international guidance. Thanks to ISO 29400, machinists, prospective constructors and all those involved with their operation can now feel more sure about their life-cycle.

ISO 29400 provides comprehensive requirements for the planning and engineering of port and marine operation for offshore wind farms. Developed by the technical committee on ships and marine technology, it could be said that it takes all the knowledge of all other previous ISO standards relating to these areas, bringing together a highly inclusive set of documents and works related to offshore wind farm operation. Invaluable for both planned and existing offshore wind farms, the new standard is “covering the systems, equipment and procedures required to perform port and marine operations”, according to Yanqing Li – Chair of the technical committee. It should also be noted that standards such as ISO 29400 are designed to be operated at the site, i.e. at sea. For these types of locations, it is today best practice to run inspection, audit and repairs/maintenance using paperless inspection applications. With many ISO standards best run off mobile devices, digital inspection can provide many benefits for both the technician and manager attempting to comply with guidelines set out in regulations such as ISO 29400. With many features such as offline recording, speech-to-text input services, picture-taking, GPS and weather data and annotation capabilities, mobile devices provide significant power for inspectors and technicians. Perhaps the most powerful feature for offshore operations is the ability to upload data and reports instantaneously to the system, allowing all onshore staff or management teams located many miles away to view the information in near real time. This doesn’t mean that maintenance teams need to store data onboard vessels and be able to report this upon their return to the mainland, but can directly take action there and then based of communication with relevant teams.

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